Stories for Boys

Sundance-winner Rich Hill picks up where Linklater left off.

In June, the bestselling The Dangerous Book for Boys was optioned by Bryan Cranston’s production company. In July, Richard Linklater released his twelve-year in the making, magnum opus, Boyhood. Their films are part of a growing interest in stories of boys in small town, rural America having to fend for themselves—sometimes in the spirit of adventure, and other times, out of necessity. Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Rich Hill, which hits select theaters nationwide this August and will be available on VOD August 5, belongs to the latter category.

Photo of Harley and his grandmother by Andrew Droz Palermo

The title of the documentary is a reference to the titular Missouri town (population: 1393) that the film’s three central characters call home. There’s charismatic Andrew, whose family has moved in with relatives and are now 12 under one roof; fearful Harley who lives with his grandmother since his mother is incarcerated; and lonely Appachey, whose acting out lands him in a Missouri juvenile justice facility. Filmmakers Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo, who have Rich Hill roots, paint a bittersweet picture of a trio doing the best they can to avoid paths of quiet desperation.

Perhaps we will continue to find ourselves under the spell of sprawling stories of boyhood as a cultural counterweight to a sedentary generation who were raised on video games? Or, perhaps these films capture the fantasies of the contemporary male viewer who refuses to grow up? Call it boycore, if you will.